Contra Costa NOW 2020 Board Members

Below is a list of our 2020 board members:

President: Jeanette Cole
Vice President: Erika Maslan
Vice President – Membership: Nancy Bocanegra
Vice President – Action, Karen Severud
Treasurer: Kathy DeFabio
State Board Rep: Jeanette Cole
Event Chairs: Phyllis Bratt & Lauren Babb
Board Adviser: Katia Senff


The ERA at Our Fingertips

November 10, 2019

Dear NOW leaders and activists,

The ERA momentum is simply unstoppable now. With the recent Virginia elections making the state poised to become the last one needed for ratification, the U.S. Congress must now do its part.

The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary will hold a mark-up on H.J.Res.79, the bill to remove the deadline from the 1972 ERA on Wednesday, November 13 at 10:00 a.m. ET. More information is available at the Judiciary website. While this deadline removal is not required, supporters are pushing it as “backup” insurance.*

The time is now to reach out to your House members to cosponsor and support this bill, formerly known as H.J.Res.38.

Action is needed in the Senate as well for S.J.RES.6: A joint resolution removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment. This bill will need both Republican and Democrat cosponsors so it is vital that we reach out to both parties to urge their sponsorship.

Please see sample outreach language below and contact your members of Congress. NOW has been on the frontlines of the movement to pass the ERA since our beginning. In 1970, 20 NOW leaders disrupted hearings of the US Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, demanding that the ERA be considered by the full Congress. We’ve been demanding our rights and disrupting the patriarchy ever since. Now we will see this long journey through to victory!

Contact Your Representative:

You can find your representative’s contact information here.

I am a voter in ___(Your State)___ and I urge you to cosponsor and support H.J. Res79, to remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA will guarantee full and equal protections claims based on sex, as they now do to claims based on race, religion or national origin. The ERA is a long overdue remedy to the inequality faced by girls and women over the past 200+ years. When Virginia becomes the last state to ratify this amendment, removing the deadline will be helpful to the effort if and when the ERA faces legal challenges.

Contact Your Senator:

Capitol Switchboard, 202-224-3121, or find your Senator online here.

I am a voter in ___(Your State)___ and I urge you to cosponsor and support Senate bill S.J.RES.6: A joint resolution removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA will guarantee full and equal protections claims based on sex, as they now do to claims based on race, religion or national origin. The ERA is a long overdue remedy to the inequality faced by girls and women over the past 200+ years. When Virginia becomes the last state to ratify this amendment, removing the deadline will be helpful to the effort if and when the ERA faces legal challenges.

Social Media

And don’t forget to speak out on social media and tag your members of Congress!

Women need the equality NOW! Congress must support H.J.Res38 and S.J.Res6 to remove deadlines for ratification. #ERANow

Additional ERA Resources:

*Article V of the Constitution states that once three-fourths of the states have ratified, the amendment becomes part of the Constitution and that is the process that the Archivist of the United States, who officially receives the states’ certification of their legislatures’ approval, has stated in writing he will follow with the ERA.

Alice Paul Institute:


NOW’s history and the ERA information is available here.

The 411 on the September Debate Candidates

The next Democratic Debate is this Thursday, September 12th. Contra Costa NOW is breaking down the candidates’ records, paying specific attention to their stances on issues central to our cause including equal pay, immigration, paid family leave, and abortion. We’ve created an in-depth rundown of each candidates policies, public statements, and voting history.


A brief recap of each candidates’ notable moments is provided below. To read our extensive analysis download our Detailed Democratic Candidate Profiles Report.


Be sure to join us for our Debate Watch Party Thursday, September 12th at the Town Hall Theatre in Lafayatte. Reserve your seat today:



Notable Moments

Joe Biden: Passage of the Affordable Care Act; Served as Chair of Senate Judiciary Committee during Anita Hill hearings/Clarence Thomas confirmation.

Elizabeth Warren: Started the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; When the GOP blocked her nomination to run it, she ran for the Senate instead.

Bernie Sanders: Unwaveringly opposed to Hillary’s candidacy in 2016; Was one of few senators not to vote for the Iraq War.

Kamala Harris: First woman and POC to serve as California Attorney General; Second black woman to serve in US Senate.

Pete Buttigieg: The youngest mayor of a US city of 100,000 or more people at 29; The first elected executive in Indiana to come out as gay.

Beto O’Rourke: Led campaign with a historic turnout and fundraising and narrowly missed beating out Ted Cruz for Senate.

Cory Booker: Played a leading role in the push to pass the First Step Act; The first sitting Senator to ever testify against a fellow sitting Senator, Jess Sessions, at a confirmation hearing for a cabinet position.

Andrew Yang: Created Venture for America, a nonprofit fellowship program

Tulsi Gabbard: At age 21, she was the youngest woman ever elected to the state legislature.

Amy Klobuchar: Passed 100+ bills as lead Democrat

Julian Castro: The youngest member of President Obama’s Cabinet, serving as the 16th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014 to 2017.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Led Democratic senators in pressuring then-Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to resign from office amid several sexual misconduct allegations.

Tom Steyer: Spent over $100 million to support Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, helping the party recapture the House; Forcefully advocating for Trump’s impeachment, further thrusting the debate onto the national stage.

College Campus Safety Tool Kit

Statistically, women are at an elevated risk of sexual violence from ages 18-24. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience forms of rape or sexual assault. Sadly, we also know that women also face an increased risk of sexual assault on a college campus.


As a part of NOW’s commitment to eradicating all violence against women, Contra Costa NOW is providing 7 Point Safety Tool Kit for female college students. 

The following is a detailed guide on how to stay safe on campus: 


  • Add the number for local campus police to your cell phone contacts. Make it one of your “favorites” or program it into speed dial for easy access.
  • Exchange daily class schedule and important phone numbers with your roommates in case of emergency.
  • Always travel with someone else, especially in deserted, not well-lit parts of the campus at night. Look into your college’s campus night shuttle, if provided.
  • Stay alert when walking around campus when going places alone, like to class or the dorms. Only keep one headphone in and take notice of the “blue light” campus emergency phones if necessary.
  • To avoid cases of drug-facilitated sexual assault, guard your drink and party smart. Do not accept drinks from strangers or prepare them yourself.
  • Make sure to charge your phone before going out and keep a portable charger handy in case you need to make an emergency call.
  • If you find yourself in an unsafe situation and need to protect yourself, carry a small container of pepper spray on your keychain. Be sure to check your state’s legal guidelines before buying one. Carrying a personal alarm on your keychain is also a helpful precaution to take. 
  • If you happen to become a victim of sexual assault, call 911, campus police, family, a trusted friend, or the national sexual assault hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) for help and assistance. The hotline can also provide a list of hospitals so you can seek medical attention.

Download our Stay Safe on Campus Tool Kit.

UPDATE: County Assessor Kramer

Our Vice President of Action, Nancy Bocanegra, attended County Assessor Gus Kramer’s hearing last week. Here is her report…

Contra Costa County Assesor Gus Kramer (center) mingles with U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Piepho before an inauguration ceremony for incoming Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson Thursday Jan. 13, 2011 in Martinez, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group Archives)


I attended this morning’s hearing regarding whether or not the hostile workplace case against Gus Kramer would be dismissed. Instead of ruling on the matter the judge summarized why there is a credible case against Mr. Kramer.
After rejecting Mr. Kramer’s attorney’s suggestion that the case against Mr. Kramer is politically motivated he agreed to allow Chris Walpole, the County’s prosecutor, and Mr. Raines, the defendant’s attorney, time to gather additional materials that may be pertinent to the case.
A hearing date was set for Friday, September 20th at 1:30 p.m. in Dept. 23 in the AF Bray Courthouse at 1020 Ward Street, Martinez.
I hope many of you can attend wearing your NOW buttons.


-Nancy Bocanegra
Vice President of Action
Contra Costa NOW
In case you missed it, County Assessor Gus Kramer has been accused of creating a hostile work environment by harassing multiple women on his staff. The accusation alleges Kramer made sexual comments toward female employees and disparaging remarks targeting one victim’s ethnicity between December 2013 and last year. In the past, he was found to have violated the Fair Housing and Employment Act by creating a “hostile and abusive” work environment. For more about these charges, read our letter to the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors regarding this matter here. 

ERA Update: Only One More State

By Anahita Ghajarrahimi

In the recent Democratic Presidential Debate, multiple candidates brought up their support for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the necessity for the amendment to finally be passed. Currently, the ERA only needs one more state to ratify it for the amendment to be able to move forward in the process of becoming official. 

Contra Costa NOW wishes to commend the recent mainstream attention given to the ERA and acknowledge the advocacy done by the candidates in order to spread awareness. Ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment is a task NOW activists have been striving to accomplish for decades, and only with further public support will the amendment be ratified by the final necessary state. 

The Equal Rights Amendment will guarantee equal legal rights regardless of sex since these rights are not explicitly stated within the United States Constitution. The ERA would also be inclusive of different intersecting identities, like race and class. 

By guaranteeing those equal rights, this country takes a step in the right direction of being able to constitutionally prevent discrimination in job opportunities, equal pay, education, and health care. 

Do you wish to get more involved in helping the Equal Rights Amendment finally become a ratified amendment and included in the United States Constitution? Join Contra Costa NOW and take part in our efforts to promote the amendment’s ratification by following us on Facebook.

A Few Good Women

Volunteer with Contra Costa NOW


Contra Costa NOW is actively recruiting volunteers for several new initiatives. Open volunteer positions include:

Blog Contributors. Are you a writer? We are looking for unique, high-quality content from our chapter members to include in our new blog.

Political Action. Are you a researcher? Help us research and stay up to date with local, state, and national policies and initiatives. 

Protestors. Are you an activist? Gus Kramer’s next hearing is August 30th. We need members of our chapter to attend and spread the word.

Event Coordinators. Do you like to party? Help us coordinate and spread the word about upcoming events.

For more details about these opportunities visit our Jobs board on Facebook:

Don’t see a position you’re interested in? Contact us at and tell us how you want to help


Contra Costa NOW Members at the National Conference

Jeanette and Erika attend the NOW National Conference

Immigration: An Issue of Intersectional Feminism

By Anahita Ghajarrahimi

The current administration criminalizes undocumented immigrants to the point that children immigrating with their parents are separated from their families at the border and imprisoned in detention centers whose conditions are comparable to concentration camps. In addition, within the past week there have been more threats of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in cities across the nation. (1)

Immigration must be regarded as a feminist issue because there is an inherent gender bias in the overall immigration system. Women are less-likely to be principal visa holders, even if they have similar levels of education to men. Within the family-based visa program, the gender bias persists since more women than men immigrate into the United States as dependents within this program, and there is significant delay in granting these family-based visas, which keeps families apart longer. (2, 5) Thus, immigration and motherhood can be seen as inherently connected, since women are typically grouped with children as dependents of their spouses. However, this becomes more complicated for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families, since the permanent resident in that relationship cannot sponsor their spouse or child to come to the United States. (3) 

When turning to the cases of undocumented immigrants or those seeking asylum in the United States, the current crisis at the border involves the violent separation of children from their parents. Family separation will have lasting traumatic impact on the migrant children, who are held at detention centers at the border while their parents are prosecuted. 

Contra Costa NOW stands as an ally to immigrants and undocumented persons within our community by supporting leglislation that will protect their rights and spreading information about paths to gaining citizenship. Specifically, we aim to boost the immigrant voices and spread awareness regarding the disproportionate sufferings and atrocities immigrant women face due to the unique intersections between political, economic, labor, and social circles. (4)

The local resource, Stand Together Contra Costa, provides a rapid response 24-hotline, legal services, and community awareness and educational programs in order to properly and effectively support and ensure the protection of the undocumented and immigrant families within Contra Costa. 

As a part of NOW’s Action Campaign to promote immigrant rights, contact your senators about passing the Clean DREAM Act to help give immigrant youths and young adults who came to the United States when they were children a pathway to citizenship. After contacting your senators, donate to NOW here to better fund further campaigns that champion and support immigrant rights. (6)




  1. Alvarez, Priscilla, and Geneva Sands. “ICE Set to Begin Immigration Raids in 10 Cities on Sunday.” CNN, Cable News Network, 22 June 2019,
  2. Facts about: Family Immigration System AND Asian & Pacific Islander Women. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
  3. “National Organization for Women.” Immigration as a Feminist Issue,
  4. “Protect Immigrant Rights.” National Organization for Women,
  5. Valoy, Patricia. “Why Immigration Is a Feminist Issue.” Everyday Feminism, 2 Oct. 2014,
  6. “What Is the Dream Act?” National Immigration Law Center,


Abortion Bans Don’t Work. Here’s Why.

By Anahita Ghajarrahimi

Abortion bans do not prevent the one thing they are supposed to: abortion. Instead, they restrict women from making decisions about their health. By banning abortion, women lose legal access to safe and effective abortions, which in turn threatens their health – the opposite of protecting life.

Contra Costa NOW believes that restricting access to abortion threatens women’s self-autonomy and ability to make decisions about their own bodies. State-level restrictions on abortion disproportionately affect groups like low income women and women of color; the intersections of oppression in these demographic groups build on one another, making access to legal and safe abortions much more difficult (3). 

Brief historical background of Abortion Rights

Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that declared abortion as constitutional right, affirmed that women have the right to privacy and that the state cannot interfere with a decision between a doctor and woman (2). However, through the 1992 Supreme Court decision on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, states could restrict and define how much of access women have to abortion, as long as there is no “undue burden” on the woman; the effects of this decision are increasingly seen today.


Current situation in state-level legislative policy on abortion

Most states allow abortions until 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, but recently several states have passed early abortion bans that vary in their limitations on when a woman can get an abortion (1). The most extreme case is Alabama; abortion is only allowed if the woman’s health is at risk, with no exception for rape or incest. Other cases include Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia, who recently passed laws that ban abortion after 6-8 weeks, and Utah and Arkansas, banning abortion after 18 weeks. Contra Costa NOW deeply condemns these states who have severely restricted women’s access to safe and legal abortions. 


Communities of color are more at risk

Race and socioeconomic status disproportionately affect women’s ability to get an abortion because abortion access stems from greater access to healthcare. Women of color and low income women are among demographic groups that are under significant attack from restrictions on abortion; the Hyde Amendment of 1976 bans those who receive federally-funded health insurance, including Indian Health Services and Medicaid, from using their benefits for abortion costs – only cases of direct risk to women’s health and pregnancy due to rape and incest are allowed. The Hyde Amendment also unfairly affects women of color because of the systematic links between income inequality, racism, and sexism; for instance, 30% of Black women and 24% of Hispanic women are enrolled in Medicaid as opposed to 14% of white women (4). Thus, women of color, who are more enrolled in Medicaid than white women, face greater challenges in obtaining access to abortions. The current early abortion bans only increase the difficulty for these communities because the greater time restraints on when a women can legally get an abortion build on already-existing challenges of healthcare access (6).


What can we do to help? 

In California, women have the choice to obtain an abortion up until fetal viability (usually 24 weeks), and post-viability abortions are still performed if the mother’s health, life, or overall well-being is at risk (5). However, other states do not offer the same reproductive rights. Speaking out against bans and uplifting those sharing their stories with abortion helps remove the stigma around the procedure. Donating directly to local, grassroots organizations is a monetary way to help out these states affected by the ban.

  1. The Yellowhammer Fund – Alabama
  2. SisterSong – Georgia
  3. Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund – Mississippi
  4. Gateway Women’s Access Fund – Missouri
  5. Preterm – Ohio
  6. Access Reproductive Care – Southeast


Planned Parenthood has begun the #BansOffMyBody campaign in order to gather support across the country to fight back against the recent bans. They plan on attacking these bans both in the courts and the streets. Planned Parenthood Northern California’s Director of Public Affairs, Lauren Babb, states that the organization “will always be there for our patients. We will fight to ensure that patients – and everyone in this country – can still access health care, no matter what.”


Contra Costa NOW champions those voicing their support for access to safe and legal abortions, especially for community members who face more challenges gaining healthcare access due to racial or socioeconomic status. Here are more ways to fight back against the abortion bans: 

  1. Go to to call your U.S. representative and ask them to co-sponsor a resolution in support of protecting access to reproductive health care. 
  2. Donate to The National Organization for Women to help us in the fight for greater reproductive justice.
  3. Take action via one of our mobilization campaigns here



Gordon, Mara, and Alyson Hurt. “Early Abortion Bans: Which States Have Passed Them?” NPR, NPR, 5 June 2019,

“History of Abortion.” National Abortion Federation,

“Mobilize for Reproductive Justice.” National Organization for Women,

“Hyde Amendment.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund,

Rodriguez, Ambrosio. “Understanding Abortion Laws in California.” The Rodriguez Law Group, 4 June 2018,

“The Hyde Amendment.” National Network of Abortion Funds, 13 Jan. 2017,

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